Conversations about Awareness and Denial

  • Susana Kaiser
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series


In exploring the cycle of fear-silence-knowledge, we have seen how the fears and silences of the witness generation were transmitted to the post-dictatorship generation and how they might condition young Argentineans’ knowledge about the years of terror. This chapter focuses on specific facts transmitted, beyond the omnipresence of terror, and which kind of information seemed to have been assimilated better by the younger generation. It is about the magnitude and pervasiveness of the repression as reflected in stories of threats, exiles, killings, or disappearances known to interviewees’ families and acquaintances. It discusses censorship and misinformation—including certain smoke screens manipulated by the dictatorship. Through the information conveyed to the participants of this study by their elders, this chapter explores society’s awareness or ignorance of what was going on during the years of terror. It looks for clues to the process by which information about human rights abuses then became widely available. It explores guilt and shame. It seeks to assess how the witness generation was positioning itself in the eyes of its descendants and, consequently, identifies mechanisms of denial and self-deception.


Young People High School Student Military Coup Protective Shield Habeas Corpus 
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    Alessandro Portelli, “Las peculiaridades de la historia oral,” in Historia oral e historias de vida (Costa Rica: FLACSO, Cuaderno de Ciencias Sociales No. 18, 1988), 23.Google Scholar

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© Susana Kaiser 2005

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  • Susana Kaiser

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